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University of Oregon

Speaker Series

Invited speakers are sponsored by the ICDS, often partnering with other UO academic departments and research centers, to promote a dynamic exchange of research and theoretical advances by prominent scholars.

2008: Invited Speakers


Dr. Cara Wall-Scheffler (Seattle Pacific University):

Among the costs of reproduction, carrying one’s infant incurs one of the greatest drains on maternal energy, simply because of the added mass alone. Because of the dearth of archaeological evidence, however, how early bipeds dealt with the additional cost of having to carry infants who were less able to support their body weight against gravity is not particularly well understood. This article presents evidence on the caloric drain of carrying an infant in one’s arms versus having a tool with which to sling the infant and carry her passively. The burden of carrying an infant in one’s arms is on average 16% greater than having a tool to support the baby’s mass and seems to have the potential to be a greater energetic burden even than lactation. In addition, carrying a baby in one’s arms shortens and quickens the stride. An anthropometric trait that seems to offset some of the increased cost of carrying a baby in the arms is a wider bi-trochanteric width.

2007: Invited Speakers


Dr. Rob Quinlan (Washington State University):

Rob’s research focuses on biosocial influences on human life history variation. He is interested in environmental and family effects on reproductive “strategies” that include the timing of weaning, pace of maturation, age at first birth, birth spacing, mating-parenting “effort”, sex-biased parental care, and multigenerational reproductive “fitness”. He has related interests in psychosocial stress, health and child development. Since 1993 he has conducted fieldwork in a rural community in the Commonwealth of Dominica, West Indies.


Dr. Geoffrey Miller (University of New Mexico):

Geoffrey’s main research focus is evolutionary social psychology, especially the study of human mental adaptations for judgment, decision-making, strategic behavior, and communication in social and sexual domains. This includes work on mutual mate choice and sexual selection theory, analysis of human mental traits as fitness indicators (reliable cues of underlying phenotypic traits and genetic quality), analysis of social attribution heuristics as adapted to the statistical structure of individual differences (including genetic and phenotypic covariances), and analysis of animate motion perception mechanisms as adapted to typical patterns of intentional movement. Other interests include the origins of human preferences, aesthetics, and utility functions; human strategic behavior, game theory, and experimental economics; ovulatory effects on female mate preferences; the intellectual legacies of Darwin, Nietzsche, and Veblen.

2006: Invited Speakers


Dr. Agustin Fuentes (University of Notre Dame):

Social scientists, especially anthropologists, have long endeavored to understand the evolution of “human nature.” This investigation frequently focuses on the relative importance of competition versus cooperation in human evolutionary trajectories and usually results in a primary emphasis on competition, aggression, and even war in to understand humanity. This perspective conflicts with long-standing perspectives in anthropology and some emerging trends and theory in evolutionary biology and ecology. Cooperation and competition are not mutually exclusive in an evolutionary context. As anthropologists, we have demonstrated that humans can—and usually do—get along. Evolution is complex with multiple processes and patterns, not all of which involve competition and conflict. In this article, I summarize elements of modern ecological and evolutionary theory in the context of human cooperative patterns in an attempt to illustrate the valuable role of evolutionary theory and cooperative patterns in integrative anthropological approaches to the human condition.